1. Crosscut columnist and architect Mark Hinshaw disagrees with Josh (and sort of agrees with the Stranger's Charles Mudede) about the newly opened Bell Street Park, calling it a "noble bust" that fails by trying to do too much. Hinshaw certainly has a point that there's a lot going on in the woonerf-style street park (a park/street hybrid that integrates all kinds of traffic, including pedestrians and cars, with one goal being to slow cars down).
As he notes, the park includes
Meandering curb lines. Several different concrete patterns and colors (mainly grays). Special lighting painted dark brown. Recycled granite curbs as seating. Shiny metal bollards and bike racks. Little rusty metal and wire fences, ostensibly to keep dogs away. Cryptic art pieces. A seating platform, as yet unused. Surface planters. Flowers in big pots.
But is that a bad thing? There's a heck of a lot going on at another nearby woonerf, Pike Place, one of the few streets in the city where pedestrians are allowed (nay, encouraged) to walk among cars, slowing traffic to a crawl. Moreover, the existence of bike racks and short fences and flowers doesn't really make the case against the entire concept: If they don't work (if people turn the space behind the fences into doggie bathrooms, for example), they can be adjusted.The more experiments like Bell Street Park we create in the city, the better—and the more we'll start to get it right.
I'm with Josh on this one: The problem isn't cars, or ugly art, or dumb little fences that don't serve any purpose; it's the fact that our infrastructure isn't equally accommodating to all modes of travel, including biking and walking. The more experiments like Bell Street Park we create in the city, the better—and the more we'll start to get it right.
2. In response to the failure of Proposition 1, the measure that would have saved 550,000 hours of Metro bus service, Seattlish has a comprehensive guide to Seattle's nearly century-long history of rejecting public-transit measures, both at City Hall and at the ballot box.
They lay a lot of the blame for our lousy transit service at the feet of now-Mayor Ed Murray, who served as state senate transportation chair in the mid-2000s, but also note that the city and state have a long history of "treating ourselves to a terrible mass transit system," starting with the rejection of streetcar taxes all the way back in 1922.
3. Meanwhile, as Geekwire reports that Lyft, the pink-mustache ridesharing service, plans to expand into 24 additional cities and lower its price by 10 percent, NY Mag (focusing on ridesharing services including Lyft and UberX) argues that the "sharing economy" isn't so much about sharing as it is about "desperation." Specifically, they write, "the sharing economy has succeeded in large part because the real economy has been struggling."
In many cases, people join the sharing economy because they've recently lost a full-time job and are piecing together income from several part-time gigs to replace it. In a few cases, it's because the pricing structure of the sharing economy made their old jobs less profitable. (Like full-time taxi drivers who have switched to Lyft or Uber.) In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust.
4. The Seattle Times has the scoop that Mayor Ed Murray's police chief search is reportedly down to four candidates, including one woman. "No name has surfaced, but a woman is among four people who are being strongly considered for the job, according to two sources familiar with the search process," the paper's Steve Miletich reports.U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan has apparently reached a decision about whether Washington state will continue to receive a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirement that says test scores must be considered as part of teacher evaluations.
5. Also at the Times, another story with ambiguous but intriguing information: U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan has apparently reached a decision about whether Washington state will continue to receive a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirement that says test scores must be considered as part of teacher evaluations. No word yet, however, on what that decision is. If the state loses the waiver, we could stand to lose $38 million in federal education money.
6. The Olympian reports that "swing Democrat" Tim Sheldon, a state senator who caucuses with the Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus, now has two opponents, including one from within his own party—Democrat Irene Bowling, a music teacher from Bremerton, and "libertarian Republican” Travis Couture, a Navy veteran from Belfair. Neither has run for office before. Sheldon has been in the state legislature for 24 years.